Your Resume Sucks (Hint: It is Probably Due to Lack of Context and Data)

Note: This post is in response to the many crypto refugees I’ve spoken to over the past few months but can apply to anyone who suddenly finds themselves between jobs or looking for their next role.

So you’ve found yourself laid off, downsized, or your whole company just imploded in crypto winter. This hurts. You can take to Twitter-ranting about the excess of the crypto bubble, but it doesn’t change the current situation. As a recruiter, I get introduced to a lot of crypto refugees in your situation. I don’t have immediate answers for most of you, especially if you’re not an engineer. I do have a talk I give that’s been refined from having this conversation countless times. Does it help people? I can’t say for certain. It does help people like myself do their job, and my job is to help business owners and hiring managers understand talent.

So let’s start with the most basic element, updating your resume, LinkedIn, Angellist, or other business-related profile. This process is not to just better market yourself, but it also helps you take inventory of the skills you possess and the accomplishments you have made.

95% of all resumes suck. No one likes reading them, and you don’t like writing them. The biggest problem I see in resumes is a lack of context and metrics.

So let’s talk about context…

If you were just laid off from a crypto company, do not expect anyone - even in the crypto world - to understand who that company is/was and what they do. Coinbase is the best-known name, but they have multiple divisions with different directives. Also, joining Coinbase in 2016 is entirely different from joining in 2018. Don’t assume the reader understands any of these factors or has time to google them. 

For each job you list, provide a short description of the company along with information on the scale and history of the company upon joining.

  • Small Startup Example: “CryptoCo (not a real company) is a SaaS tool for launching compliant token sales. They raised $2M in venture funding in Sept 2017. The founders recruited me over to build out the product team one month after they closed their funding (insert CrunchBase link)"

  • Known Startup Example: “I joined Coinbase in 2016 when the company was post-Series B with $116M raised and 150 employees. (see CrunchBase) They had 250k customers at the time, primarily based in the US and their biggest hurdle was educating the broader public on why they should invest in Bitcoin. I was hired to drive adoption of the company’s new professional trader platform, GDAX.”

    • Note: I am only guessing that in 2016 Coinbase had that number of employees, customers, and was facing that specific hurdle.

    • Pro tip: Adding links shows transparency and gives the reader the ability to dive deeper. Add lots of them and then PDF your resume for easy clicking.

Once you have given the reader context about the current state of each company upon your joining, the next step is to add metrics showing the impact you made during your tenure.

Metrics to highlight will vary based on the type of company and your position within the company. Generally, you are highlighting improvements in revenue, customers, costs savings, customer satisfaction, and other factors that impact the company’s profit and loss. Other metrics to highlight include team building, products built, systems installed, and so much more. Additionally, call out external factors you were facing such as market conditions and competition.

  • Small Startup Example: "As part of the launch team, we grew to 15 people in the first year. Capitalizing on the sudden boom in the ICO market, we launched 50 token sales for clients in the US and other countries. In total, $235M was raised through the platform in 18 months.”

  • Known Startup Example: “During my 2.5 years at Coinbase my marketing team was able to grow our customer base by 350%. Aided by favorable market conditions in 2017, we were able to grow 3x more than our competitors by competing on a message of reliability and speed."

Avoid generalized statements such as “I led acquisition marketing.” Employers want to know how many customers you acquired during your tenure and through what methods? Did you lower CAC and raise ARPU? What market conditions and competitors did you face? How did you win out? 

Tell your story with numbers. What was happening when you joined the company and how did your actions propel the company forward?

Additional pointers:

  • Reduce/eliminate old job information (if you’re 7+ years into your career, we don’t care about your internship and college jobs. If you’re 10 years into your career, we only care about your first meaningful job of more than a year, e.g. analyst at Big Bank, marketing at Amazon, etc.

  • If you worked at a company that got acquired, call that transaction out and any details such as acquisition price. Was your team let go after the acquisition due to redundancies? Let the reader know.

  • If you worked at a company less than a year, it’s going to raise questions. If those are easily answered, state them but don’t put any spin on the events. Perhaps the company ran out of money or you were part of a round of layoffs. These things happen. Get ahead of the questions.

Next up, I will share advice for developing a game plan to actively pursuing your next job.  

Lauren Canter
Analysis By Position: Circle

Company Overview: Circle

Founded in 2013, Circle is a global payment and investment platform, built on blockchain technology and powered by crypto assets. Based in Boston, they have grown to 247 employees with offices in New York, San Francisco, Dublin, London, and Hong Kong.

About the Co-Founders:

Jeremy Allaire (CEO) & Sean Neville (President) have been working together on and off since 2000 when Sean joined Jeremy's startup Allaire as a Senior Engineer. Jeremy and his brother, JJ, founded Allaire in 1995 and created ColdFusion, the first database-driven web-content server. In 1999, the brothers took the company public and then in 2001, they were acquired by Macromedia (inventor of Flash who was later acquired by Adobe in 2005). Jeremy stayed on at Macromedia as CTO for two years while Sean stayed for five years. In 2003, Jeremy became an Entrepreneur in Resident at General Catalyst (who has since invested in all funding rounds for Circle) and then in 2004, he founded online video platform Brightcove, who distributes video content across devices. Sean joined Jeremy at Brightcove from 2006 to 2008 as a Senior Architect before leaving to found gaming startup Wicked Games. Then in 2012, Brightcove went public with a valuation of $290M. The next year Allaire stepped down as Brightcove’s CEO to serve as Chairman of the Board and a few months later would found Circle alongside Sean.

Funding: $246M VC from Breyer Capital, General Catalyst, IDG Capital, BlockChain Capital, Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group, Goldman Sachs, Bitmain, & Accel via CrunchBase

Valuation: $2.9B in May 2018

Traction: 7M customers as of May 2018

Business Lines: 

Circle Pay - App for sending money between currencies, countries, & friends

Circle Invest - App for retail investing in cryptocurrencies

Circle Trade - OTC exchange with $2B+ monthly volume

Poloniex - Crypto exchange

Centre - Joint-venture with Coinbase aimed at establishing a standard for fiat on the internet and providing a governance framework and network for the global, mainstream adoption of fiat stablecoins. Their first product is USDC, a US dollar-backed stablecoin. Read their whitepaper.


  • Oct 2017 - Trigger Finance, a mobile-first investing platform

  • Feb 2018 - Poloniex, cryptocurrency exchange ($400 million deal)

  • Oct 2018 - SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding platform (subject to FINRA approval)

Stated Goals: 

  1. Register as a brokerage and trading venue with the SEC in order to sell security tokens.

  2. Obtain a federal banking license allowing them to supersede state rules covering crypto.

To hold reserves with the Federal Reserve, to natively access the central-banking system without intermediaries, to directly settle with other banks in other markets around the world through those networks — that can improve the efficiency of what we deliver, it can reduce the costs.
— Allaire from Bloomberg article published in June 2018

In the graphics below, we look at how Circle has grown in the first five years of their existence and how their hiring has aligned with their overall strategy:

Trey SheltonComment